ESPN Bumps Up New Documentaries About Lance Armstrong, Bruce Lee and Mark McGwire vs Sammy Sosa
Faced with an ongoing lack of sports, ESPN has still found ratings success with The Last Dance, a 10-part series chronicling the final championship run of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Since sports aren’t slated to return anytime soon, ESPN is bumping up a few more documentaries from their ongoing 30 for 30 series that were originally scheduled to premiere later this year.
After The Last Dance comes to an end in the middle of May, the following Sundays will see new documentary premieres focusing on scandalous cyclist Lance Armstrong, martial arts legend Bruce Lee, and the famous home run battle between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998. Get details on the new ESPN documentaries coming in May and June below.
ESPN announced their new round of documentaries that will begin with the first of the two-part film LANCE on May 24. Not unlike The Last Dance, the film about cyclist Lance Armstrong provides unprecedented access to the former Tour de France winner who was caught doping, effectively ending his meteoric rise to fame that inspired so many people. Marina Zenovich (Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind) directed LANCE, which will conclude with the second part on May 31.
June heads into martial arts territory with Be Water, described as “an intimate look at the life and motivations of martial arts legend Bruce Lee.” The movie was intended to be screened at the South by Southwest film festival back in March after a premiere at the Sundance Film Festival (where LANCE also played), but the entire event was canceled. Now everyone will enjoy the television premiere of the film directed by Bao Nguyen on June 7.
Finally, June 14 brings life back to America’s pastime with a documentary flashing back 22 years to the home run rivalry between St. Louis Cardinals player Mark McGwire and Chicago Cubs star Sammy Sosa. Long Gone Summer, directed by A.J. Schnack, will highlight their battle for home run supremacy. Both players look back on that season extensively and provide new details and revelations you’ve never heard before.
Below, you can check out the full synopses and schedule for the three upcoming ESPN documentaries. If you don’t have ESPN, you’ll be able to watch them on ESPN+ the day after they premiere.
Part 1 on May 24 at 9:00 PM ET, Part 2 on May 31 at 9:00 P.M. ET
From acclaimed director Marina Zenovich, LANCE is a fascinating, revealing, comprehensive, chronicle of one of the most inspirational – and then infamous – athletes of all time. Based around extensive interviews and conversations with Lance Armstrong, the two-part, four-hour film tells the story of the cyclist’s rise out of Texas as a young superstar cyclist; his harrowing battle with testicular cancer; his recovery and emergence as a global icon with his seven consecutive Tour de France titles; and then his massive fall after he was exposed in one of the largest doping scandals in history.
Armstrong, along with a collection of family, teammates, friends, rivals, and journalists, all reflect on his story, creating a fascinating character study, capturing a unique chapter of sports history, and insisting the audience make its own interpretations about the many different sides of a complex saga.
June 7 at 9:00 P.M. ET
In 1971, after being rejected by Hollywood, Bruce Lee returned to his parents’ homeland, Hong Kong. Over the next two years, he’d complete four iconic films that would define his legacy, a legacy cut short when he died, stunningly, in the summer of 1973. He was 32 years old.
“Be Water” is a gripping, fascinating, intimate look at not just those final, defining years of Lee’s life, but the complex, often difficult, and seismic journey that led to Lee’s ultimate emergence as a singular icon in the histories of film, martial arts, and even the connection between the eastern and western worlds.
The film chronicles Lee’s earliest days, as the son of a Chinese opera star born while his father was on tour in San Francisco, and then raised in Hong Kong over what became an at times troubled childhood. Sent to live in America at the age of 18, he began teaching Kung Fu in Seattle, and established a following that included his future wife, Linda. His ambition ever rising, Lee eventually made his way to Los Angeles, where he strove to break into American film and television. There, despite some success as a fight choreographer and actor, it was clear Hollywood wasn’t ready for an Asian leading man – and so he returned to Hong Kong to make the films that would in fact make him a legend, his international star skyrocketing just as his life was cut short.
“Be Water” is told entirely by the family, friends, and collaborators who knew Bruce Lee best, with an extraordinary trove of archive film providing an evocative, immersive visual tapestry that captures Lee’s charisma, his passion, his philosophy, and the eternal beauty and wonder of his art.
June 14 at 9:00 P.M. ET
It was one of the most memorable and significant seasons in the history of baseball. In the summer of 1998, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Mark McGwire and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa embarked on a chase of one of the game’s most hallowed records, igniting the passion and imagination of fans and non-fans everywhere. The drama, excitement, and results would be remembered for generations. If we only knew then just how complex our feelings about it all would eventually become.
In ESPN’s new 30 for 30 film “Long Gone Summer,” director AJ Schnack takes viewers back to the landmark 1998 baseball season – its tremendous highlights, massive impact, and undeniable complications. Featuring in-depth interviews with both McGwire and Sosa, talking at length for the first time in over two decades, the intimate portrait carries viewers through every twist and turn of the sluggers’ historic chase of Roger Maris’s iconic record of 61 home runs in a single season. With a musical score composed by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, a St. Louis-area native and current Chicago resident, the film is a journey back through time that recalls how seismic and emotional the story was – even as the legitimacy of the accomplishments at its center would later be called into question.
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